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as the facts which they revealed, how much more should we have been conscious of the natural repugnance in question! How strongly should our carnal and untutored reason have recoiled from the wondrous scheme of redemption, as an unbecoming and incredible representation of the mind and character of Godhead!
This feature of Messiah's work and dispensation is strikingly noticed by the prophet Isaiah, in ch. lxiv. 4, in illustration of which we may do well to quote the excellent remarks of Vitringa on the passage: “By those things, which no one hath seen or heard, but which were prepared by God for those who wait for him, we are to understand the great salvation that was to be revealed in Messiah, with his wonderful dispensation, and the strange events that should happen during the ages of its continuance—all which can be truly and practically known by those only, who have been endowed with spiritual understanding. The new dispensation is wholly made up of things strange and wonderful; all that you see and hear of it is against carnal wisdom. The appearance of the Son of God in an humble condition—the ministry of the gospel by him in person, and the circumstances connected with it-his shame and sufferings, his resurrection and ascension into heaven-the nature of the kingdom instituted by him, which was spiritual—the blessings of his kingdom, which were also spiritual—the instruments employed for advancing the kingdom, men furnished with no worldly learning, and destitute of outward authority—the gift of the Holy Spirit-the calling of the Gentiles, the rejection of the greater and more eminent portion of the Jewish people, &c. These things were indeed such as the carnal eye had never seen, and the carnal ear had never heard. Hitherto they had never existed, nor could they without express revelation, by any thought or natural ingenuity on the part of man, have been foreseen or understood.” And though they were disclosed from time to time in the word of prophecy, yet being so far removed from the natural apprehensions of men, so contrary both to their expectations and their desires, if there had been no connexion between them and the previous dealings and dispensations of God, excepting what existed in the word of prophecy, not only could there have been no distinct conception of them by the people of God before the things themselves were revealed, but no preparation of mind for understanding and receiving them when revealed—no spiritual training for the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, such as might have rendered the change from the past to the future things of God, a natural and fitting transition.
It is certainly not to be denied, that in the truths and principles of the gospel, even when viewed by themselves, apart from every thing that went before, there is a self-evidencing power, which commends itself to the natural feelings and convictions of men. Without this, the gospel could not have made the progress it has done, and is still doing, among rude and barbarous nations, who have not intelligence enough to weigh and canvass properly its historical evidence. But though there is a force in the truths of God, which, when aided by the testimony of conscience, and the grace of the Spirit of God, is sufficient to make these in process of time to triumph over all hinderance and opposition, it was not on that account the less important and necessary for the furtherance of the gospel, that every thing should have been done that was practicable and competent, for softening the natural prejudices, and predisposing aright, the minds of those, whó already were under the teaching and discipline of God. Therefore, besides the faith, and hope, and longing desire, which were awakened in the church toward redemption by the intimations of prophecy, there was needed also the work of preparatory dispensations, so that when she had reaped the full benefit of these, and was about to enter into “the dispensations of the fulness of times," her past history and pre-established views, and acquired character, might be in suitable accordance with what was now to be brought to her experience. And how otherwise could this be done, than by coupling with the word of prophecy the closely allied and fitting accompaniment of types,-in which, by means of institutions and ordinances, transactions and events, all skilfully arranged and properly diversified, the church was privileged to witness on a common field, and relation to things seen and temporal, the operation of the same moral elements, the manifestations of the same cardinal truths and principles, on which the spiritual and everlasting kingdom of God was to constructed ? For thus the various acts and revelations of God, from the first opening of the sluices of sin downwards,—the events of his providence, the order, constitution, and history of his church,—the ordinances with which he furnished her, the privileges with which he endowed her, the oppressions and deliverances, the judgments and mercies through which he brought her,-though scattered over a wide field, and many of them of smallest importance in themselves, were yet so carefully chosen and appointed, as to bring out the general characteristics of the gospel dispensation. They present a sort of rough draught of “the kingdom of heaven,”-unfolding by means of seen and earthly transactions, the ideas and relations, which were to be embodied in its sublime realities, its spiritual experience, its divine blessings and imperishable glories. Hence was it, that the things which are written of the history and worship of the ancient church, are so frequently brought into remembrance by our Lord and his apostles; and that, not merely as furnishing a sacred language, rich and copious for the varied and proper expression of divine truth. This had been itself an invaluable service rendered by the things of the Old Testament dispensation to the New, as affording terms already used and hallowed in the church of God, for the clear and ample communication of the spiritual and heavenly truths of the gospel. But this service they did, and only could render, by possessing what fitted them for performing another greatly more important,-possessing a real form and resemblance of these gospel things themselves, exhibited on the world's theatre of ordinary characters, transactions, and events, and thus serving as a ladder whereby to mount up and scale the high tower of heavenly wisdom and grace, reared in the glorious dispensation of Christ. So that what is written in the history of the Old Testament church, concerning God's dealings toward her, and the institutions and providences which she received at his hands, was all written for the learning of the New Testament church; and the things which happened to the one, were appointed for types to the other; nay, were contrived with such minute and wonderful adaptation to the mysteries of redemption, that to be able to read with a clear and discerning eye the truths and lessons they were designed to teach, concerning the work and dispensation of Christ, is to reach the stature of a full-grown, ripened understanding in the things of God.
It is in this connexion, perhaps, more than any other, that the chief import should be sought of the expression, which is used of the period of Christ's appearance in the flesh,—that it was "in the fulness of time.” Its chief import, we say, not by any means its only one.
For there is a manifold wisdoin in all the arrangements of God; and in the moral, as well as in the physical world, he often makes many things conspire to the production of one result, and one result to accomplish many important ends. We hold it to be far from misspent learning, but learning well and profitably employed, to search far and wide amid the records of past time, with the view of discovering the many lines in the world's history, which all converged toward that period which witnessed the manifestation of the Son of God, as the one above all others that was best suited for the institution of his kingdom, and most advantageous for spreading the knowledge of its truth over the nations of the earth. But whatever light may be gathered from these external researches, it should never be forgotten, that God's own record must furnish the paramount reasons for determining the peculiar fitness of the period in question, and his own dealings with the church, the chief ground out of which those reasons are derived. In every arrangement affecting the interests of his church, and, therefore, pre-eminently in what concerned the time of his Son's incarnation, which is the centre point of all that touches her interests, the state and condition of the church itself, is the first thing contemplated by the eye of God, the whole world besides occupying no more than a dependent and subordinate place. And so when we are told, that Christ “came in the fulness of time," the fact of which we are mainly assured, is, that all had been done, which was fit and necessary to be done, for bringing the church into a state of
preparation for the event of his appearing, --not only that the time marked by prophecy had arrived, and expectation, rising on the wings of prophecy, had reached its appointed height, but also that the series of earthly dealings and dispensations was now complete, which were designed to make the church familiar with the great truths and principles of God's everlasting kingdom, and prepare her for hailing the erection of this kingdom, amid the great realities and blessed prospects of the gospel.
It is true, indeed, that we search in vain for the success, which ve might naturally have expected to arise from such a design on the part of God, and that with the exception of a comparatively small number, his professing church was found so completely unprepared for the doctrine of Christ's kingdom, as to reject it with abhorrence and disdain. But this by no means proves the absence : of the design, nor yet the unfitness of the means employed for carrying it into effect. It only proves how insufficient the best means are in themselves to enlighten with spiritual truth the darkness of the human mind, and discipline its corrupt will,—how, when carnal motives are allowed to form the underground of a religicus profession, and selfish desires usurp the place of divine love, the whole counsel of God is sure of being marred of its effect. It is a striking monument to all coming ages of the world, of the natural enmity and rebelliousness of the heart toward God, showing how it may remain essentially untaught, even after the fullest course of instruction, and rush headlong in its career of guilt and folly, against the clearest intimations of Heaven's purpose. But while we cannot overlook these dark signs of unremoved ignorance and perversity in the mass of the Jewish people, we are also to remember, that there was still a blessed remnant,-"the election according to grace;" who, as the church in the world, so they in the church, ever hold the prime place in God's regard. There were Simeon and Anna, Zacharias and Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph, the band of apostles, and the multitude, no small number after all, who flocked to the standard of Jesus, as soon as his kingdom was fairly erected, and set before them in the grandeur and completeness of its parts. And did not the course of God's preparatory arrangements answer its purpose in regard to them? Let the style of argument and address employed by the apostles with their countrymen, furnish the reply. How much do both their language and their ideas savour of the sanctuary! How perpetually do they resort to Moses, as well as the prophets !-to the predictions, indeed, which spake of Christ and the things of his salvation, but not to these only,—to the records also of by-gone history, and sacred institutions; upon which they continually threw themselves back for support, and argued from them in a way, which took for granted, that the facts and revelations of the gospel were but a new and higher development of the principles, by which the events of their past history, and the services of their worship, were alike pervaded. These were scarcely less instrumental, than the signs and wonders, which the apostles received power to perform, in enabling them to build up the foundations of the Christian faith, and were an armory from which they took many powerful weapons to undermine the strongholds of unbelief. They had no new language to invent—that was much. But what was still more, they had no strange ideas, or unheard-of principles to declare. The system of truth, for the defence and propagation of which they were set, was interwoven with the whole history of their nation; in labouring to establish it, they were only treading in the footsteps, and on a higher vantage-ground maintaining the principles of their
illustrious fathers ; in short, they were but the heralds and expounders of a scheme, which gathered into one glorious orb, the many separate and straggling rays of divine truth, which shone from all the dealings and dispensations of God since the world began, and raised it aloft for the healing and joy of the nations. Thus does all Scripture furnish its testimony to the truth as it is in Christ, and Christ himself appeared in “ the fulness of time," because the materials required to complete that testimony were now furnished in ample abundance.
CONSEQUENCES GROWING OUT OF THE VIEWS NOW UNFOLDED FOR THE
INTERPRETATION OF PARTICULAR TYPES, AND FORMED INTO SOME GENERAL RULES NECESSARY TO BE OBSERVED IN CONDUCTING INVESTIGATIONS OF THIS NATURE.
It has already been objected to the typological views of the older divines, that their system admitted of no fixed or well-defined rules for guiding us in the interpretation of particular types. Every thing was left to the discretion or caprice of the individual who undertook to explain them. The laying down of a few maxims or canons of interpretation, as was sometimes done, did not alter the case; for these were of necessity too vague and general to provide an effective check on the one hand, or supply a clear directory on the other. That the type must have carried, in its original design and institution, a preordained reference to the gospel antitypethat there is often more in the type than in the antitype, and more in the antitype than in the type-that there must be an appropriate and natural application of the one to the other-that the wicked as such, or any acts of sin as such, must be excluded from the category of types--that one thing is sometimes the type of different and even contrary things, though in different respects, and that there is sometimes an interchange between the types and the antitype of the names respectively belonging to each:—These rules of interpretation, which are the whole that Glassius and most other writers on the types give for our direction, are manifestly of so obvious and general a nature, that they can go but a short way in helping us to clear our path through the intricacies, which overspread the field of inquiry. They do not so much as touch the main difficulties of the subject, and bring no light for the discovery of its leading and essential features. This is just what might have been expected. The rules could not possibly be precise and definite, when the system, on which they were founded, was altogether loose and indeterminate. The foundation was never well